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Breast Cancer Coalition gives second chance to Great Stuff shop

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Christy Fleming
Christy Fleming
The managing editor of TownSquareDelaware.com, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.

Women often shop in groups at the Great Stuff shops. This picture was taken last summer.

After hearing the passionate pleas of volunteers and shoppers, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) has decided to give the Great Stuff resale shop, a popular non-profit retail enterprise run with the assistance of volunteers, a second chance. 

The organization announced in May that it would be permanently closing the two north Wilmington resale shops sometime this summer.

Related: Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition to close Great Stuff shops

However, since reopening last week with the intention of winding down the business, the store has seen a record number of shoppers. On most days, women line up before the store even opens and dozens have brought in apparel and accessories to donate to the shop.  

 

The closure stirred moving reactions from long-time volunteers, many who vowed to find a way to stay open. Their pleas reached board members and administrators with the nonprofit who decided that the economic effects of the pandemic shouldn’t wipe out 10 years of goodwill and important service that the store has provided in the community.

“Today is a new day for Delaware and for Great Stuff,” said DBCC Executive Director Francesca Vogel on Friday. “As retail operations begin to gradually open this month, the future holds new possibilities that must be explored to re-evaluate continued operations.”

Located in the Talleyville Shopping Center, Great Stuff Savvy, featuring designer women’s clothing and accessories, and Great Stuff Home and Resale are run by a corps of volunteers, including many breast cancer survivors and all of whom are friends.

 

While DBCC still intends to close the home goods store, it plans to extend operations at its flagship store — with upscale designer apparel and accessories — as long as possible, evaluating revenue on a month to month basis until October. DBCC will also consolidate a selection of its home furnishings under the Great Stuff Savvy roof.

This will give volunteers five months to show that the store can remain profitable in the age of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Select home furnishings will also be available in the consolidated Great Stuff Savvy Resale shop

Volunteer Kathleen Cushing, one of the longest-serving volunteers, started her working on the floor of Great Stuff three months after it opened in October 2010.

“I’m extremely excited, as I think all of our dedicated volunteers are. We think we’ll not only prove it to ourselves, but we’ll be able to meet the requirements of keeping us a viable entity within the community,” she said.

 

DBCC said the forced closure of the shops in March (due to COVID-19) and the loss of donations “took its toll,” initially forcing them to make tough decisions.  

“Unfortunately, the non-profit resale shops, like other retailers, have not been spared the devastating financial impacts of COVID-19,” said Vogel.

“Facing mounting costs without any offsetting income, an uncertain future for retail operations, and limited knowledge of the virus at the time, we initially made the difficult decision to close the Great Stuff shops in the summer,” she said.

“Volunteers and patrons came forth, passionately pleading that Great Stuff be allowed a fighting chance to try to emerge from this pandemic. But it will take an entire community to make Great Stuff sustainable once again,” said Vogel.

 

Great bargains await and donations are needed

DBCC hopes new and regular customers take the time to stop by in the coming weeks. Great bargains await and new donations are in great need to replenish inventory and generate ongoing sales income to cover the shop’s monthly costs and ensure future sustainability.

Women’s apparel, jewelry and shoes are all for sale inside Great Stuff in north Wilmington

Net proceeds benefit programs and services provided by the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, a 501(c)3 in our local communities. All donations are tax-deductible.

“Great Stuff has become a place for breast cancer patients and their families to find mental support, empowerment, friendship. Within these pink and silver walls, we create life-long bonds. We’re just so happy to see it reopen,” said one volunteer.

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